JANUARY
2009

 

 

 

By
B. Rosie Lerner
 
Purdue Extension
Consumer
Horticulturist

 

 

 

 

 

01-15-09

Have a Heart for Your Valentine

Looking ahead to Valentine's Day, here are some ideas for plants that will delight your plant lover.

Heartleaf philodendron, also known as sweetheart plant, is easy to find, easy to grow and an excellent choice for a beginning gardener. The philodendron takes its name from Latin for love and tree, "philo" - love and "dendron" - tree. The heart- shaped leaves arise from sturdy stems that can twine around an upright support or trail from a hanging basket. These plants thrive best in moderate indirect light, moist soil and high humidity, but can adapt to low light and are reasonably tolerant of wide fluctuations in moisture and humidity.

String of hearts, or Ceropegia, is a trailing vine that, as you might guess from its name, has heart-shaped leaves borne on long, thread-like stems. The thick, succulent leaves are dark green with contrasting whitish veins. Although the plants do bear interesting pink or purplish tube-shaped flowers, they are quite small and don't provide much of a show. A sunny window is best for Ceropegia, but it will tolerate lower light intensity.

Cyclamen is a traditional valentine favorite with its heart-shaped leaves, adorned by lovely flowers in white and many shades of pink, red and lavender. The flowers have a striking form, likened to butterflies, birds in flight and even falling stars, depending on who is doing the looking. And, as an extra bonus, the leaves are finely detailed with silvery or light-green markings. Cyclamen are available as large, showy plants or as mini-plants. For the longest lasting show of blooms, look under the leaves to select those with the largest number of flower buds. Cyclamen thrive best with bright light, cool temperatures and moist, well-drained soil.

Anthurium is beautiful in bloom as well as just a foliage plant, with its large, shiny leaves (often heart-shaped) and exotic bright flowers, also called the "Heart of Hawaii." The blooms have two distinct parts: a large, heart-shaped leaf-like structure called the spathe and a long spike of densely packed tiny flowers called the spadix. The spathe is shiny, heart-shaped and ranges in color from scarlet to various shades of pink, white, lilac, and coral. The spadix is usually a contrasting color, generally white, yellow or sometimes purple. The blooms last for weeks and also make excellent cut flowers. Anthurium thrives in coarse, well-drained soil (peat moss-bark mix) and bright, but indirect light.

 

Writer: B. Rosie Lerner
Editor: Olivia Maddox